Boko Haram’s Attacks Spread into Niger Sparking Mass Exodus

ICC Note: On February 9th, 2015, the government of Niger voted to join Chad, Cameroon, and Benin in their efforts to prevent Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based extremist insurgency, from spreading to Nigeria’s neighboring countries. Following recent attacks by the terrorist group in in the city of Diffa, thousands have fled west to the city of Zinder. Schools, businesses and even hospitals are closing across the region as people are leaving the town towards safety.

By Illia Djadi

02/13/2015 Niger (World Watch Monitor) - Nigeria’s neighbor to its north, French-speaking Niger, is the latest country to pledge its Army will fight the radical Islamic group, Boko Haram.

Boko Haram’s military and strategic advance has already provoked the postponement of Nigeria’s Presidential election, due to have been held this Saturday, February 14th. The election is now planned for March 28th.

On 9th February Niger’s Parliament voted to join Chad, Cameroon and Benin in a regional force to try and stop the insurgency from spreading further across the regions bordering North-east Nigeria.

The region of Diffa near Lake Chad in South-Eastern Niger has become a new battle ground for the radical insurgents.

On Friday, February 6, militants launched their first action to target Niger territory: twin attacks against the towns of Bosso and Diffa. It was repulsed by the Niger army.

But the radical group intensified its incursions in the region, with five attacks in less than a week.

On Wednesday, February 11, an attempted suicide attack was foiled in Diffa. According to AFP quoting a military source, a female suicide bomber was shot before she could detonate her device.

The Niger government has declared a 15-day state of emergency which started at midnight Tuesday 10 February, in an attempt to curb this upsurge of attacks.

The measure grants broad powers to the army, allowing them to search homes and ban the circulation of motorbikes, which are often used by Islamists to launch attacks.

Mass Exodus

According to local sources the army has been carrying out search operations aimed at flushing out the jihadists who have infiltrated the city of Diffa. But these operations were not enough to reassure people.

Traumatized by the recent incursions and fearful of new attacks, thousands have fled the region, especially towards Zinder, 450 kilometers west of Diffa, though still close to the Nigerian border.

[Full Story]